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The Financial Express

Global COVID-19 infections rise for first time in seven weeks

142 countries to get 237 million vaccines doses from COVAX by end of May


| Updated: March 02, 2021 21:32:37


Maria Van Kerkhove Maria Van Kerkhove

The number of new coronavirus infections globally rose last week for the first time in seven weeks, the World Health Organization has said.

“We need to have a stern warning for all of us: that this virus will rebound if we let it. And we cannot let it,” WHO technical lead for COVID-19 Maria Van Kerkhove told a briefing on Monday, reports Reuters.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the rise in cases was “disappointing but not surprising” and urged countries not to relax measures to fight the disease.

Tedros noted that Ghana and Ivory Coast became the first countries on Monday to begin vaccinating people with doses supplied by COVAX, the international programme to provide vaccines for poor and middle-income countries.

Some 237 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are expected to be delivered to 142 countries by the end of May through the COVAX facility, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

However, he said it was too early for countries to rely solely on vaccination programmes and abandon other measures. “If countries rely solely on vaccines, they are making a mistake. Basic public health measures remain the foundation of the response.”

But he also criticised rich countries for hoarding vaccine doses, saying that it was in everyone’s interest for vulnerable people to be protected around the world.

“It’s regrettable that some countries continue to prioritise vaccinating younger healthier adults at lower risk of diseases in their own populations, ahead of health workers and older people elsewhere,” Tedros said.

Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergency expert, said the global fight against the coronavirus was in a better state now than it was 10 weeks ago before the roll-outs of vaccines had begun. But it was too early to say the virus was coming under control.

“The issue is of us being in control of the virus and the virus being in control of us. And right now the virus is very much in control.”

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